T in the Park Preview

T for twenty
THE TWILIGHT SINGERS

King Tut’s Tent, today

SOME music doesn’t come into its own until you experience it live, and so it is with the Twilight Singers. The soul-rock outfit based around the talents of grunge veteran Greg Dulli may not be a headline act, but you can bet they’ll put on one of the best shows at T in the Park.

Dulli is one of the most charismatic of entertainers. Formerly frontman of the Afghan Whigs, the hugely underrated grunge outfit who released a string of amazing records through the 1990s, Dulli has now produced five albums with the Twilight Singers, originally established as an Afghan Whigs side project.

Twilight Singers shows, as with the Afghan Whigs before them, are more like celebrations of music or modern soul revues than conventional gigs, Dulli charming the pants off everyone within 200 yards of the stage. So it was the last time Dulli appeared at T in the Park in 1998. Headlining the King Tut’s stage, Dulli declared his Afghan Whigs “the anti-Pulp” in reference to the main stage headliners, before delivering one of the most thrilling rock’n’roll shows this punter has ever witnessed.

Not that Dulli remembers much about it. “All I remember from that day is playing football with Teenage Fanclub,” he chuckles. “Oh, and I met Gwen Stefani that day, she was a very nice girl.”

Back then, the Whigs seemed on the verge of breaking through into the mainstream, something which never quite happened. They split for good six years ago. “People liked the Afghan Whigs, and I liked them too,” he says. “I had a front row seat to it and it was fantastic.”

Despite 20 years in the business, Dulli shows no signs of fading. The Twilight Singers’ latest album, Powder Burns, blends visceral rock with thoughtful soul and contemplative melodies, a triumph considering that it was recorded in a New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

But the albums are only half the story for Dulli. The man is renowned for delivering some of the strangest and finest cover versions ever live, everything from Marvin Gaye to Bjork via Aerosmith getting the Dulli treatment.

“Doing covers is a gas,” he says. ” I’m not just a musician, I’m a music fan and I love to listen to other people and interpret their songs.”

Last time Twilight Singers played Scotland they were delivering a great take on Outkast’s Hey Ya and the current tour sees the band bashing out a version of Primal Scream’s Deep Hit of Morning Sun.

Dulli has been through plenty of bad stuff over the years – seeing friends Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith die, while also struggling with his own drug addiction. Having recently turned 40, did he have a party to celebrate? “I had a quiet one,” he says. “The last big bash I had was when I was 33, cos I figured that if I got crucified at the end of that year, then I truly was the messiah.” He takes a long draw from his cigarette. “Didn’t happen.”

Dulli may not be the messiah, but he’s one of the finest rock ‘n’ roll performers of his generation, and not to be missed.

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